Texas law recognizes that having both parents actively involved in their children’s lives is crucial to childhood development. That is why family courts are often reluctant to award sole conservatorship (child custody) to just one parent. However, not every parent is equal to the tasks of effectively raising children. For example, a non-custodial parent’s failure to appear for scheduled time-sharing (visitation) events with his or her children may leave a child feeling unloved and emotionally wounded. These events may also anger the other parent and leave him or her feeling helpless to change the situation.
Although those feelings of resentment or anger may be justified, it is important not to fight in front of the children or otherwise vilify the unreliable parent. Here are some tips on how to best handle those types of situations:
— According to a professor of psychology at the University of California, San Bernardino, it is important for ex-spouses of unreliable parents to assure their children that they are loved. Also, it is important for those parents to be make it clear to the children that the other parent’s failure to appear for visitation is a bad thing and that sometimes people, even adults, make mistakes — mistakes that can also hurt people whom they love.
— Keep an alternate backup plan ready to go. The psychologist suggests that parents with unreliable ex-spouses should be prepared in the event that the other parent fails to show or cancels his or her time-sharing appointment at the last minute. Sometimes, taking the children to a park or some other fun activity can divert their attention away from the missed meeting.
— The psychologist recommends that children ages 10 and older should be encouraged to voice their opinion towards the unreliable parent. Children who are encouraged to communicate their frustration towards the other parent might enjoy a sense of empowerment over their situation. A child should be encouraged to voice his or her feelings without berating the other parent. For example, children might mention that they feel embarrassed when only one of their parents is present at a scheduled school event or reveal that a missed meeting hurt their feelings.
Divorced Texas parents with children should know that family courts consider many factors during child custody modification requests. This can include a parent’s willingness to be with his or her children during authorized visitations. Your Texas family law attorney can assist you with helping you put together a child custody modification plan that reflects the best interests of your children.
Source: Parents Magazine, “11 Rules for Helping Your Child Deal With Divorce” Holly Saint Lifer, Dec. 02, 2014